Breast Cancer: Blessing & Curse | Breast Cancer Roundup, September 1, 2012

The debacle at the national leadership of the Susan G. Komen Foundation earlier in 2012 didn’t aid the cause of breast cancer support. Donors couldn’t help but equate the longtime organization with women-bashing and pro-life zealotry. Also, a recent paper from two professors at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice takes Komen to task for skewing statistics trumpeting mammography as a lifesaver while ignoring the harm done by radiation and perhaps generating “false hope.” Still, there is other breast cancer news of a more optimistic nature. Phase II studies by the Canadian firm Oncolytics Biotech Inc., sponsored by NCIC Clinical Trials Group at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., will test the efficacy of a version of the human reovirus, associated with the common cold, on patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer. There’s always something new to read.


Carpenter, Phil (photogs.). Breast Stories: Cancer Survivors Speak Out. Fitzhenry & Whiteside. Mar. 2013. 109p. ISBN 9781554552726. $32.95. HEALTH/PHOTOG

Photojournalist Carpenter’s debut work puts a “face” on the sometimes amorphous label of “breast cancer survivor.” These uplifting, honest photographs of Canadian women postsurgery accompany their stories and their comments on how they view themselves today. Revealing, candid, and absolutely necessary so breast cancer patients know that they have options and are not alone.

Corder, Shirley. Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey Through Breast Cancer. Revell. Oct. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780800720230. pap. $12.99. HEALTH/REL

Registered nurse, pastor’s wife, and writer Corder says she’s had God in her life since a spiritual renewal in her teens. Here, she offers daily meditations for those under­going breast cancer treatment, as she herself did. She does not ignore human fellowship in the recovery process, stressing that patients need friends and nurturing relationships as well as a divine presence to traverse “cancer valley.” For faith-based health collections.

Loughridge, Sally. Rad Art: A Journey Through Radiation Treatment. American Cancer Soc. Oct. 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781604430929. $16.95. HEALTH/MEMOIR

Clinical psychologist and now full-time artist Loughridge presents her “emotional journey” during the 33 daily radiation treatments that followed her breast cancer surgery. These paintings are “not intended to be art per se; rather, the process of creating them was the critical element in my coping strategy,” she writes. With radiation treatment no less daunting than chemotherapy in the cancer journey, it is, still, less discussed. A valuable asset to patient health collections.

starred review starRhyne, Teresa J. The Dog Lived (and So Will I). Sourcebooks. Oct. 2012. 268p. ISBN 9781402271724. pap. $14.99. HEALTH/MEMOIR

At 41, California lawyer Rhyne was twice divorced and had lost two dogs, so she was sure relationships of the romantic and pet variety were off her docket. Still, she couldn’t deny her affinity for a much younger man or the pull of an abandoned (and controlling) beagle, Chris and Seamus, respectively. When Seamus was diagnosed with cancer, Rhyne developed her tough-talking “hospital personality” to deal with medical personnel and situations. Then she herself was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and all bets were off. This delightfully wisecracking memoir (also the title of Rhyne’s blog) will renew the spirits of cancer survivors as well as dog lovers. For health and pet collections.

Silver, Julie. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey; Surviving and Thriving During and After Your Diagnosis and Treatment. Chicken Soup for the Soul. Sept. 2012. c.230p. ISBN 9781935096948. pap. $9.95. HEALTH

Silver (assistant professor, Harvard Medical Sch.; You Can Heal Yourself ) here assembles commentary and anecdotes from professionals and survivors divided into meaningful sections that limn the breast cancer experience, e.g., “First, You Cry,” “Building Your Healthcare Team,” “Think Positive During and After Treatment,” “Living in Cancer World and the Real World,” and “A Beautiful Woman Emerges.” Though each patient and diagnosis is unique, hearing from others who have endured the disease is vital to the well-being of those going through it. For all patient health collections.


Hartmann, Lynn C. & Charles L. Loprinzi. The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book. Good Bks. Oct. 2012. 410p. illus. index. ISBN 9781561487721. pap. $22.95. HEALTH

Medical oncologists and professors at the Mayo Clinic, Hartmann and Loprinzi provide a thorough and detailed reference to add to the breast cancer literature. Directed at patients, the text ranges from disease basics and biology to treatment options, side effects, associated female cancers, and even supportive care in 24 chapters that include targeted sidebars and personal accounts. For comprehensive collections as well as the reference shelf.

starred review starPrijatel, Patricia. Surviving Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Hope, Treatment, and Recovery. Oxford Univ. Nov. 2012. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780195387629. $27.95. HEALTH

Journalist and teacher at Drake University, IA, Prijatel (rhymes with Seattle) was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in 2006 at age 60, pretty much trumping the accepted thinking that this type of breast cancer—estrogen-receptor negative, progesterone-receptornegative,and negative for the Her2/neu human epidermal growth factor receptor—is a young woman’s disease and also limiting her treatment to chemotherapy and radiation while eschewing hormone adjuvant therapy. Prijatel’s journalistic skills are evident in her fluid prose and the detail with which she lays out the specifics of TNBC. Tables and shaded information boxes keep readers focused on the main points. Patients will learn about brachytherapy as an option over traditional radiation and the use of acupuncture to withstand the nausea brought on by chemotherapy. Prijatel also acknowledges the “blessing of this curse: you learn that you are loved.” She states her goal here is to “inform, educate, calm, and encourage.” She does so in fine form. Highly ­recommended.


Novy-Bennewitz, Cara. Diagnosis: Breast Cancer; The Best Action Plan for Navigating Your Journey. Windy City Pubs. 2012. 209p. bibliog. ISBN 9781935766179. pap. $19.95. HEALTH

Exercise physiologist Novy-Bennewitz here boils down the breast cancer experience into neat sections, with lots of information, illustrations, and worksheets and checklists labeled with icons in four significant categories—Record Keeping, Questions for the Treatment Team, Medical Options and Opinions, and Medical and Insurance Expense. The author also includes tips from cancer patients: “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died” (Erma Bombeck). Of great value to the newly diagnosed and their families, though not a circulating item.

Reiss, Fern. The Breast Cancer Checklist. Pr. Oct. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781893290204. pap. $19.95. HEALTH

Breast cancer survivor and author (The Infertility Diet: Get Pregnant and Prevent Miscarriage ) Reiss presents a blueprint for taking control of the procedural and treatment world of the disease. She includes step-by-step instructions for each initial phase of living with breast cancer and describes what to expect going forward. She states in her introduction, “I wanted a book…with checklists so that I wouldn’t lose track of things…. I even hoped for a book…so that I could stay organized and feel empowered. This is that book.” Clearly presented information for patients and loved ones, this book is not an ideal circulating title but rather a handy reference.


Good, Phyllis Pellman. Fix-It and Forget-I t ® Pink Cookbook: More Than 700 Great Slow-Cooker Recipes! Good Bks. Oct. 2012. 348p. illus. index. ISBN 9781561487738. pap. $24.95. COOKING/HEALTH

Revised and expanded in 2010, the original Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by New York Times best-selling author Good ( “Fresh from Central Market” Cookbook ) has been updated anew with a 64-page section featuring breast cancer statistics and profiles of survivors along with their special recipes. Good writes, “For many [survivors], fixing food was a burden—until some good souls stepped in and brought them meals.” Part of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Crusade.

Unell, Barbara C. & Judith Fertig. The Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day After Breast Cancer. Andrews McMeel. 2012. 261p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449418328. $29.99. COOKING/HEALTH

Unell (coauthor, The 8 Seasons of Parenthood: How the Stages of Our Children’s Lives Transform Us , and founder of wellness-related nonprofit Back in the Swing) and cookbook author Fertig ( Heartland: The Cookbook ) join forces to help women to be proactive in trying to live healthfully and “get back in the swing of life” following a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Along with recipes abundant in fruits, vegetables, and seeds and beautiful full-color photographs by Sara Remington, the book features news items, comments from health experts, and exercise suggestions. The dishes will be of interest to anyone wanting to revitalize their menus. For patient health and cookbook collections.


Miller, Marcy. Rebooting in Beverly Hills: A Wise and Wild Path for Navigating the Dating World. Bancroft. 2012. 182p. ISBN 9781610880466. $22.95. MEMOIR/PSYCH

Lawyer Miller begins her memoir in 2005 at the point where she finds evidence of cheating by her third husband, forcing her in her 50s back into the world of dating. About seven years earlier, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, reconstruction, a grueling regimen of chemotherapy (details provided), and radiation. Sadly, there is little more here about her cancer, except a brief apprehension of approaching a new bed partner with her altered body. Not enough introspection among the name-dropping (restaurants, hotels, celebrities, wines, vacation spots) to be of value to cancer patients. Miller has recently been featured on Fox News and in the Huffington Post.


Better Than Before. color. 50 min. 2012. DVD $19.95 + s/h. HEALTH/FITNESS

Rereleased on DVD, this program of exercises is designed to help those undergoing breast cancer surgery to restore movement and flexibility in the affected arm as quickly as possible. “Those recovering from surgery will be delighted that they can take an active part in regaining their health and overall well-being” (LJ 1/96).

Eagle, Kathleen. The Last Good Man. Belle Bridge. 2012. 252p. ISBN 9781611940923. pap. $14.95. F/ROMANCE

“In this down-to earth, hard-hitting romance, Eagle turns her considerable skills to the very real issues of breast cancer, reconstructive surgery, and its emotional aftermath and provides readers with a realistic, but hopeful, look at a situation that many women will face” (LJ 8/00). Add where cancer fiction gets good circ.

Sulik, Gayle A. Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. Oxford Univ. Sept. 2012. 480p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199933990. pap. $21.95. HEALTH

Now in paperback, a sociology professor’s view of the advocacy movement: more about exploitation than empowerment. (LJ 9/1/10)

Walker, Laura Jensen. Living Through Breast Cancer with Faith, Hope, and Laughter. Spire: Revell. Oct. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780800788285. pap. $5.99. HEALTH/REL

Originally published as Thanks for the Mammogram! Fighting Cancer with Faith, Hope, and a Healthy Dose of Laughter ( LJ 9/15/00), Walker’s account of her breast cancer journey will appeal to patients who can empathize with her travails but who seek a spiritual guide as well. For faith-based collections and health titles.

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"